COUNCIL’S 3 MINUTES
By: Tamara Paltin
Published in the Maui News February 8, 2020
Last month, the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee and Economic Development and Budget Committee traveled to Molokaʻi to engage the Molokaʻi community in important decisions that directly affect Molokaʻi. Discussion included short-term rental home permits, drainage infrastructure and the possible relocation of the Molokaʻi Police Station among other things.
We are a tri-isle county, and the Council Chamber in Wailuku is suitable for most meetings, but putting in the extra effort to meet in the other districts outside of budget season can help enhance the accessibility of local government. At times, members of our community are unable to attend council committee meetings in Wailuku due to conflicts with work, home or the ability to travel.
Scheduling meetings at on-site locations can help to encourage community engagement. This is the logical remedy to address that fairness gap.
By having these meetings on Molokaʻi, I witnessed testifiers who were comfortable speaking and sharing their manaʻo. This helped everyone present gain a better understanding of the situation and possible solutions.
While the Council Chamber does allow for remote testimony from district offices in Hana, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and hopefully soon Lāhaina, the in-person aspect provides personal and invaluable local insight over and above testimony received via a conference call.
Council committees also have the ability to organize site inspections which are open to the public. These inspections provide an incredible opportunity to engage all relevant parties at the very locations being considered as well as give councilmembers a realistic perspective of the decisions they will make.
Councilmembers represent all residents of Maui County, however, we are not intimately familiar with each and every particular location and there is no substitute for seeing things first-hand. For example, our visit to the proposed Molokaʻi Police Station parcel allowed councilmembers to gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of the proposed site.
Thanks to community input we received on Molokaʻi, the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee recommended a bill to establish a cap of zero short-term rental home permits on Molokaʻi be passed on first reading. This decision echoes the Molokaʻi Planning Commission’s recommendation for zero short-term rental home permits and the Molokaʻi Community East End policy statement.
Additionally, with significant public support, a 10-year conditional permit for Manaʻe Goods and Grindz was also recommended for passage on first reading by the Committee.
By allowing community stakeholders a better opportunity to engage decision makers, I truly believe we were able to make decisions that were genuinely well-informed by those that will be directly affected.
During my time as chair of the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee, I have held meetings in Pāʻia, Lāhaina, Maʻalaea and Molokaʻi on issues that directly affect those communities. Additionally, we have conducted site inspections at Kahana Sunset and the proposed Dickenson Street Apartment project.
As a councilmember and committee chair, I will continue to advocate for our meetings to be held in the communities they impact. If you agree, I hope you’ll mention it the next time you’re testifying in front of the council.
Your feedback is always welcome. We rely on it to ensure we are representing the residents of Maui County to the absolute best of our abilities.
* Tamara Paltin is chair of the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee. She holds the council seat for the West Maui residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.